Predators 5, Avalanche 3

Fans started tossing caps onto the ice, celebrating what they

thought was a hat trick by Nashville captain Jason Arnott. Patric

Hornqvist actually had tipped in two of those goals, which Arnott

knew.

“I was laughing on the bench,” Arnott said. “I knew he tipped

it so nothing you can do. But it’s good spirits to get our crowd

into it. They haven’t had much to cheer about of late at home. It’s

nice to see they’re still behind us and still love it.”

Hornqvist finished with two power-play goals and an assist to

help the Predators beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 on Thursday

night. Hornqvist understood the confusion because he said he knows

it can be so hard to see if he tipped the puck or not.

“I touched those two, and I’m happy for the team because we got

a huge win,” Hornqvist said.

The Predators came into the game seventh in the Western

Conference, only four points behind sixth-place Colorado, and they

now have earned five of six points possible with a game remaining

in this last four-game homestand before the Olympic break.

Arnott had a goal and three assists, and Steve Sullivan had a

power-play goal and an assist. Joel Ward also had a goal, and Shea

Weber added two assists as Nashville won the season series with

Colorado 3-1-0, which could be a tiebreaker at season’s end.

“We’re looking beyond them,” Sullivan said. “We’re looking to

teams ahead of them. Those are the teams we’re trying to catch.

They’re ahead of us. Hopefully before April 5th, they’ll be behind

us by a lot.”

Cody McLeod, Matt Duchene and Justin Mercier scored for

Colorado, which has lost four of five coming off a season-best

six-game winning streak.

Colorado had killed 24 straight penalties coming in and

stretched that to 25 before Nashville scored three goals on the

next five man advantages.

McLeod put Colorado up 1-0 at 16:39 of the first period after

Nashville failed to keep the puck in its zone. Chris Stewart

corralled the puck and brought it up the right side before passing

cross-ice to McLeod, who put a snap shot past Pekka Rinne.

The Predators were coming off the longest shootout in franchise

history, going 10 rounds with 20 shooters in a 1-0 loss Tuesday

night to Phoenix. Nashville outshot the Avalanche 14-8 in the first

and kept it up in the second but kept having trouble finding the

net.

Not even 72 seconds of a 5-on-3 helped with fans screaming for

the Predators to shoot. Kyle Quincey came out of the penalty box,

then Arnott fired a slap shot from the blue line at the right half

boards that Hornqvist redirected to tie it at 1 at 6:46 of the

second.

Trotz called that a timely goal for a team that had been

“stumbling and bumbling” on the 5-on-3.

“It wasn’t pretty but we got it done,” Trotz said.

That opened the scoring up. Only 63 seconds later, Ward

backhanded the rebound of Jerred Smithson’s shot past Craig

Anderson for a 2-1 lead.

“That was a key moment in the game when we took the 5-on-3

penalty,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “We did a good job

killing that, then they score as soon as the guy gets out of the

box.”

Colorado took a timeout at 11:09 of the second, and Duchene tied

it at 2 with his 18th of the season from the slot on a power play

at 13:59.

Again, Nashville answered, this time even more quickly.

Arnott scored from in front 23 seconds later to put the

Predators ahead to stay. Hornqvist tipped in Arnott’s slap shot at

19:19 to pad the lead. Arnott originally had been awarded the

Predators’ first goal, and fans started celebrating before the

announcement that Hornqvist had scored his team-leading 23rd goal

of the season.

Sullivan added his 11th with a slap shot from the right dot at

10:31 of the third. Mercier scored his first this season on a rush

from in front at 18:42.

“We were sloppy in a lot of areas,” Colorado defenseman Scott

Hannan said.

NOTES: Linesman Steve Barton left the game midway through the

first period after tangling feet with Nashville defenseman

Alexander Sulzer, which sent Barton crashing backward onto the ice.

… Hornqvist, a Swedish Olympian, also leads Nashville with eight

power-play goals. … Nashville defenseman Cody Franson was a

scratch. He will miss a couple weeks after breaking a rib Tuesday

night in a shootout loss to Phoenix.